The next time Erisa came to tutor me, she showed me some Perl tutorials (Taylor was right!) and started instructing me on how to program. As homework, she gave me a pageful of exercises.

One exercise, that involved a lot of text-processing and the so‐called “regular expressions”, turned out to have a bug, but I could not find it. I thought about calling Taylor, but then thought that maybe the IRC would be helpful.

So I logged on to Freenode, and joined the #perl channel. Here’s what happened:

                -->  You are now talking on #perl
                ---  Topic for #perl is Welcome to #perl :: Do not flood, use
            to show us code.  This is a
                     Perl help channel, please ask your question. :: Latest
                     perl golf can be found at ::
                     Latest perl is 5.8.5
                ---  Topic for #perl set by qualoo
          <jennray>  Hi all!
          <rindolf>  So like I was saying, I did not had a serious experience
                     with the BSDs, so I could not say.
          <rindolf>  jennray: hi!
          <jennray>  Can you help me with debugging some code? I’m trying
                     to learn Perl.
          <rindolf>  Sure. Just don’t paste it here. Use the pastebot.
          <rindolf>  perlbot: nopaste
          <perlbot>  Paste your code here and #perl will be able to view it:
          <jennray>  Okey dokey.
          <rindolf>  jennray: I see on your /whois that your name is “Jennifer
          <rindolf>  So you’re a girl?
          <jennray>  Yes, I am.
          <rindolf>  jennray: nice. We could always use more girl perlers.
          <rindolf>  We have another female regular here called “beth”. She,
                     on the other hand, knows her stuff pretty well.
          <jennray>  :-)
          <rindolf>  Also, guys flirt with her all the time here. (And she
                     flirts back.)
          <jennray>  Well, I have a boyfriend.
          <rindolf>  So does beth.
                -->  beth has joined #perl
          <rindolf>  jennray: talk about the devil!
          <rindolf>  BETH!
             <beth>  RINDOLF! HOW ARE YOU?
          <rindolf>  jennray: something you need to know about beth is that
                     you must always greet her with ALL-CAPS.
          <jennray>  Heh heh.
          <rindolf>  beth: jennray is trying to learn Perl and she has
                     some erroneous code. jennray: will you please post it to
                     the pastebot now?
          <jennray>  Yeah, OK.
        <pasteling>  “jennray” at pasted “Erroneous Code”
                     (16 lines) at
             <beth>  hmmm… jennray, are you sure you want to use a ‘*’ in the
                     regex on the last character and not on the whole string?
          <jennray>  Oh! It affects just the last character?
          <rindolf>  Yes. You need to cluster it by using (?:mystring) or
                     capture it using (mystring).
          <jennray>  Trying…
          <jennray>  It works!
          <jennray>  Thanks beth and rindolf!
             <beth>  no problem. i’m here to serve.
          <rindolf>  beth++
          <rindolf>  jennray: whenever someone helps you you must increase
                     their karma by plus-plusing them.
          <jennray>  rindolf: ah, OK.
          <jennray>  beth++
                  *  beth hugs jennray